Movies I Wanna See Most: Summer 2011

As we dove into the summer movie season last weekend with "Thor" and the obligatory rom-com that is "Something Borrowed" we began a four month trek through what could be a great and suprisingly diverse summer in the world of cinema. There are of course plenty of sequels (Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, Kung Fu Panda, and Cars) as well as a plethora of comic book flicks (Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, and X-Men; First Class). There are a few indies that might also shine through this summer (Everything Must Go, Hesher, Our Idiot Borther, and The Tree of Life) as well as a string of great comedies (Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher, Friends With Benefits, Horrible Bosses, and The Change-Up) and even a few adult dramas thrown in (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Larry Crowne, and The Help). Here are the ten films I am probably most anxious to see once the lights go down and the previews begin:

10. Cowboys & Aliens-July 29
The first time I saw this trailer in front of a movie was at the midnight show of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I" and when the title appeared on the screen the crowd erupted with laughter. This was not the response I expected. I mean, it has James Bond and Indiana Jones together, in the same movie! How much more badassery do you want? Plus, it's directed by Jon Favreau and has Ron Howard AND Steven Spielberg producing it! Sure, the title could be taken as a bit of joke, I see where they're coming from, but did you see the images that preceded it? Favreau looks like he has flawlessly combined two complete opposite genres and made the epitome of what a summer movie should be. I think it's a great idea and I actually think, despite the Harry Potter crowd's initial reaction, that this is going to make a lot of money. I hope it does. I don't know how this can't turn out great.

9. 30 Minutes or Less-August 12
There are a ton of great comedies I am anxious to see this summer, and most are inhabited by some of my favorite comedic actors as well as some that feature more prestige actors in unexpected roles. I think "Bridesmaids" will be huge this coming weekend and will give Apatow his biggest hit since "Pineapple Express" as well as redefine the way people think about women comedians in the movies. I think there might be better comedies coming out this summer than my number 9 pick , but I can't help it, I am really excited about "30 Minutes or Less" it just has so much going for it. The last time Director Ruben Fleischer and star Jesse Eisenberg teamed-up back in 2009 we were given the sleeper hit "Zombieland". This time Eisenberg (a bigger star thanks to both "Zombieland" and "The Social Network") plays a pizza delivery guy who is kidnapped by two criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) who strap a bomb to him and tell him he has to rob a bank for them. Yes, you read that right, McBride and Swardson as a pair. I love it. These guys come from two different kinds of comedy realms, Swardson is more in the Sandler crowd while McBride has starred alongside more Frat Packers and Apatow gang members. To see these two worlds colliding is nothing short of greatness in my eyes. Not to mention Eisenberg is paired with Parks & Rec star Aziz Ansari, who I better know as "Raaaaaaaandy" from Apatow's "Funny People". The caliber of comedians here combined with the outrageous plot line under the supervision of Fleischer is sure to be a comedy I will be first in line for come August.

8. Captain America: The First Avenger-July 22
With "Thor' making good at the box office and receiving piles of positive reviews the folks over at Marvel studios must be pretty happy right now. Let's just hope they feel the same way come July. I had my doubts when director Joe Johnston was brought on board to direct the film that would set the roots for this entire "Avengers" universe in stone. Johnston has made his share of good movies, mostly for younger audiences though, but his last film, "Wolfman" was a critical and box office flop. Worries weren't eased when Chris Evans was cast as the hero of all heroes either. I like Evans, but he has already been a part of a Marvel franchise and honestly, didn't seem serious enough to take on the heavy themes that Captain America would deal with. Captain America was going to have to be a little darker, a little more gritty than "Iron Man" or "Thor". I didn't know what to expect, but with the first full length trailer released in March, things are looking up. Evans seems to have just the right amount of humanity and intimidation needed to transform from Steve Rogers to the first Avenger. Johnston has also fleshed out the cast with credible actors like Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving as well as capturing the right tone for the movie. Hopes are high that this will be even better than "Thor" and the stakes are even higher since Marvel is letting so much ride on the most ambitious movie project ever. I think Captain America will make more money in its first weekend than "Thor" but will it continue to thrive after that? We'll find out come July 22.

7. The Help-August 12
I plan on reading Katherin Stockett's novel before August 12, 2011 when the big screen adaptation arrives in theaters. So, I am not excited about what this film has to offer because I have already read the book and am anxious to see what filmmakers have done with the material. No, I am simply interested in seeing "The Help" strictly from its word of mouth. At first hearing about the project I was just happy Emma Stone was going to be given a chance to broaden her appeal and show off her range. After her star-making role in last fall's "Easy A" I was kind of afraid she would begin to get type cast and play that same sarcastic yet charming girl over and over. In this film about a southern town that is turned upside down when Skeeter (Stone) decides to interview the black women that have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families, we will get to see Stone not only spread her wings a little further, but we will see her supported by fine actresses such as Viola Davis and an already much talked about performance from Octavia Spencer as well as Sissy Spacek and Bryce Dallas Howard. "The Help" may be one of the few mainstream movies this summer with real Oscar chances and I'm excited to see if the hype is in fact worth it.

6. Transformers: Dark of the Moon-July 1
After 2009's "Revenge of the Fallen" many fans had given up hope Michael Bay's "Transformers" would ever come to life again in a good movie. I'll be the first one to say that while the second film was way too long and had way too many plot complications and strange rules to follow, it had its moments. The fight between Optimus Prime and the decepticons against the lush green of a forest was an amazing looking piece of film. We can always count on Bay to make movies that look great, but with "Dark of the Moon" Bay seems to have realized the problems that overtook the adventures of Sam Witwikey and his robot pals in the last film and has stripped this third film of all that extra junk leaving it with a simple plot, toning down the humor while keeping just as much action. The second trailer released just a few weeks ago has made me list this much higher on my list than I would have at the beginning of this year. It looks nothing short of epic and I can't wait for July fourth weekend to celebrate what could be the re-birth of this series.

5. The Tree of Life-May 27
Ever since I have heard the whisperings about the reclusive filmmaker Terrance Malick and Brad Pitt making a film together I have been anxious to see the results. Pitt seems to always make these epic tales with real heart and Malick is known for his big philosophical ideas and dream-like landscapes that overtake his films. It seems a natural fit to place these two creative minds together. Throwing Sean Penn in the mix only adds even more prestige to this very secretive project. Little is known about the plot other than it follows the life journey of Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. The film is also said to have a sequence including dinosaurs as well as some celestial happenings as shots of outer space can be seen in the trailer. I'm not sure what all of this might amount to but I am eager to find out and can pretty well bet this is one of the only summer films we will still be talking about come Oscar season.   

4. Super 8-June 10
J.J. Abrams can do no wrong in my book, after making me a fan of "Star Trek" two years ago (someone who had prior to seeing his film had never seen a single Star Trek episode or film) I was hooked and couldn't wait to see what he did next. Though the teaser for "Super 8" last fall made it look like yet another alien invasion film to come out this year my attitude towards this film changed completely after seeing the latest preview. With Spielberg in the producers chair and Abrams also penning the script it seems the two have produced a film that hearkens back to Spielberg's early years of "Close Encounters" and "ET". "Super 8" has an alien element to it yes, but it seems more about the children at the core of this movie who experience something out of this world while trying to enjoy their summer by making their own movie. It is refreshing to see a film for young adults and pre-teens that takes itself completely serious. I am not sure what to expect or how all of the story lines will converge and conclude, but I am psyched for this original tale and for true escapism in the cinema this summer.

3. Crazy, Stupid, Love-July 29
To say the least, I am a huge Steve Carell fan and now that he has exited the office I am more than ready to see what he does on the big screen. Things seem to be starting off great as his first starring role post-Michael Scott is the lead role in a dramedy with an all star cast. Also featuring Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, Marissa Tomei, and a reportedly great comedic tun from Ryan Gosling this seems like it might be the biggest sleeper hit of the summer. Carell also plays the role of producer here and while he has stated that Gosling is really the performance to watch here I am excited to see Carell return to the kind of everyman that he played in "Dan in Real Life". "I Love You, Phillip Morris" directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra have experience with this kind of tone and seem to focus as much on their actors as their shot set-ups which is nice to know in these types of films. I think it will earn great reviews and begin a great new start for Carell's film career, but most of all I hope people go see this, because I want Carell to be making the kinds of films he wants and this seems right up his alley.

2. The Hangover Part II-May 26
It might have been a horrible idea to try and catch lightening in a bottle twice, but there is no harm in trying and there are countless fans of the first film just waiting to see the three members of the wolfpack back together on the big screen. You can count me among them. Back in 2009 when the first film debuted their wasn't much talk around it and hardly anyone expected anything from it. When it went on to become a cultural phenomenon and not to mention, the highest grossing R-rated film of all time it was kind of inevitable the makers of the movie wouldn't think sequel. While the first full length trailer released at the beginning of April was criticized for looking too much like the first films plot, the stars and director Todd Phillips have defended it by saying the content is simply too raunchy to show in any preview (though I have been anxiously awaiting a red band trailer). After reading interviews and other behind the scenes reports everything seems to confirm this defense but until midnight on the 25th I won't know, I can only hope this second movie takes it further than the original in every way possible. If not, it will be a joy just to see these guys together again, but there is no way this movie can actually be that bad. Is there?

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II-July 15
This is not only the biggest movie event of this summer, but of the year. And this is truly an event in every aspect of the word. As the final film in the series of eight films that has spanned over ten years, this is a film franchise most of my generation has grown up with. We have become young adults as the stars of these movies have, we have gone through what they have at the same time (minus the magic stuff of course) but it is an institution, a part of life, and something of a hard fact to swallow that this is the end of it. I'm not even sure what to think knowing another Harry Potter film will never be "coming soon" to theaters. It is almost like it was before the final book was released but at least we knew there would be the films to look forward to. What do we have now? It is truly insane how much of an impact these books and movies have had on my life and so it is with great sadness that I am both anxious and at the same time not ready to see the final chapter unfold on screen. It will be a bittersweet moment but easily the most memorable one I will experience at the movies this summer.

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